Population growth and urbanization have led to water scarcity and pollution, which is a health hazard not only to humans but also to the ecosystem in general. This has necessitated coming up with ways of treating water before consumption. Photocatalysis has proved to be one of the most promising cheap techniques that involve chemical utilization of solar energy. TiO2 widely used in photocatalysis absorbs a narrow range of the solar spectrum compared to ZnO. In this regard, this study aimed at preparing and optimizing cobalt-pigmented ZnO, which is applicable in photocatalytic water treatment. The objectives in this study were to fabricate zinc oxide (ZnO) thin films by anodization, pigment the fabricated films with varying cobalt concentrations, characterize the fabricated films optically, and investigate the cobalt-pigmented ZnO’s performance in the methylene blue degradation under UV light irradiation. Mirror-polished zinc plates were sonicated in ethanol and rinsed. Anodization was done at room temperature in 0.5 M oxalic acid at a constant voltage of 10 V for 60 min, and cobalt electrodeposited in the films. Post-deposition treatment was done at 250°C. Optical properties of the films were studied using a UV-VIS- NIR spectrophotometer in the solar range of 300–2500 nm. The photocatalytic activity of the fabricated films was studied in methylene blue solution degradation in the presence of UV light irradiation for 5 h. Cobalt pigmenting was observed to reduce reflectance and optical band gap from 3.34 to 3.10 eV indicating good photocatalytic properties. In this study, ZnO film pigmented with cobalt for 20 s was found to be the most photocatalytic with a rate constant of 0.0317 h−1 and hence had the optimum cobalt concentration for photocatalytic water treatment. This can be applied in small-scale water purification.
Part of the book: Thin Films